NEW YORK (AP) - Investigative documents obtained by The Associated Press on the 11 suicides in New York City jails over the last five years show that in at least nine cases, protocols and safeguards designed to prevent inmates from harming themselves weren’t followed. Here are some reactions from lawmakers, advocates and the mayor on Friday:
Mayor Bill de Blasio: “It’s very troubling. It’s an indication of what has been wrong for a long time at Rikers (Island) and what has to change … Some of this is a history of ineffective management, and we’re changing that very quickly.”
City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley: “When somebody is at Rikers they’re in the care and custody of New York City and we have to make sure they’re safe and that means even safe from their selves. Especially for those inmates with a mental health diagnosis, it’s really heart wrenching to hear they’re denied medications or that when they’re on suicide watch, people really aren’t watching them.”
Jennifer J. Parish, an attorney at the New York-based Urban Justice Center’s Mental Health Project: “Whether it is an individual officer’s neglect or a systemic failure, those responsible for these deaths must be held accountable. Until individuals incarcerated in the jails are valued as fellow human beings, abuse, neglect, and brutality will continue to plague our city jails.”
City Councilman Rory Lancman: “The fact that nine of the 11 suicides were the product of a breakdown in procedures or practice just illustrates that the Department Of Correction needs a comprehensive review of all of its policies. There’s almost no aspect of the city’s correction system that’s not crying out for review and reform.”
Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.